Suspected measles cases recorded in South Cotabato

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/14 January) — Health authorities in South Cotabato have recorded 10 suspected cases of measles infection in two localities in the province in the last two weeks.

Dr. Rogelio Aturdido Jr., South Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) chief, said Tuesday the suspected measles cases were recorded by the provincial epidemiology and surveillance unit (PESU) in various hospitals in Koronadal City and in Tupi town.

“These are still suspected measles cases and we have submitted samples from these patients to the RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) for confirmation,” he said in a media forum.

He said they expect the results from the RITM, which is based in Alabang, Muntinlupa City, to arrive within the next two weeks.

The official said the confirmatory tests at the facility, which is run by the Department of Health (DOH), are usually completed in one week but noted that it is presently swamped with samples coming from parts of Metro Manila that were affected by an ongoing measles outbreak.

Aturdido said the 10 suspected measles cases mostly involved children, two of whom had history of travel recently to Pasay City.

The area, however, was not among the nine Metro Manila cities where the measles outbreaks were earlier reported.

He said one case involved an adult aged 33 years-old, who is currently confined at the Dr. Roel Senador Memorial Hospital in Tupi town.

Aturdido said they are currently closely monitoring the 10 suspected measles patients to prevent them from possibly spreading to other people.

“Our surveillance personnel are regularly following up these cases and are monitoring the communities where the patients came from for other possible infections,” he said.

In 2013, the official noted that the province had not recorded a single case of measles although they submitted a number of samples to the RITM for the confirmatory tests.

Aturdido said the possibility of measles outbreak in the province is quite remote as the area’s child immunization rate for the disease is currently at 94 percent.

The DOH in Region 12 intensified its measles immunization drive earlier this month in the wake of the reported outbreaks in parts of Metro Manila.

From Jan. 1 to Dec. 14 last year, the DOH registered a total of 1,724 laboratory-confirmed measles cases nationwide, with 744 cases coming from Metro Manila.

Region 12 only recorded four confirmed measles cases in the area last year.

The region comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato. (MindaNews)